Let the Dead Bury the Dead

06-26-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, VC

Our scripture readings today are centered on our call to a total commitment to discipleship. Jesus warns His followers that following Him would require a total commitment that involves sacrificing everything else and putting God first as the highest priority in our lives.

In the first reading, we heard about the call of the prophet Elisha to succeed the prophet Elijah. On receiving the mantle of prophet Elijah, Elisha understands the seriousness and demands of his call to be a prophet of the Lord. He sacrificed his animals and burned his equipment to demonstrate his willingness to break completely from his former way of life as a shepherd and give his total commitment to his new vocation as the prophet of the Lord

In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus meets four sets of people on his way to Jerusalem. First, He met the Samaritans who were hostile to Him. His apostles wanted Him to call down fire from heaven to punish them, but He rebuked them. He did this to demonstrate to His apostles that following Him requires having an unconditional love for everyone, even their enemies. Here, we are invited to think about the “Samaritans” in our lives, people who hate us or who diff er in their beliefs. We are called to not only forgive them, but to love them.

The next person Jesus met on the way was someone who came up to Him, wanting to follow Him. Jesus described to him the sacrifices involved in following Him, especially the sacrifice of not even having a place to call home. Unlike prophet Elisha in the first reading, this man returned to his former way of life for fear of the sacrifices involved in following Jesus.

Jesus invited the third person he met on the way to follow Him, but the man replies that he would be ready to follow Jesus only a[ er his father died. Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury the dead.”

The fourth person that Jesus met on the way volunteered to follow Jesus, but hesitated because of his commitment to his family. To him Jesus said, “No one who sets his hands to the plow and looks at what is left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Many of us could identify with these four sets of people who encountered Jesus on His way to Jerusalem. They all have seemingly genuine excuses for not giving their full commitment to God. While some of us are wiling to put God first in our lives and to make any personal sacrifices involved, including martyrdom. However, some of us may find it hard to sacrifice an hour for Sunday Mass or time to pray during the week. How many times do we say “when I get this done, then I’ll begin going to Church more or spend more time praying?” The devil knows how to play with our minds. He tells us, “You have lots of time, you can pray later, you can do that good deed later, etc.” We must resist his temptation. Where we choose to spend our time tells us what is important to us. God is our greatest inheritance and we owe everything to Him.

Fr. James